Do You Live in the Shadows or the Light?

Sherri Woodbridge avatar

by Sherri Woodbridge |

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The tallest sunflower I am aware of measures 30 feet, 1 inch. It was grown by Hans-Peter Schiffer and was first verified by Guinness World Records in August 2014. Schiffer now holds the record twice, winning again in 2015.

The tallest sunflower I grew was just over 22 feet. I thought that was pretty impressive!

Sunflowers are happy flowers

Sunflowers tend to bring their own kind of sunshine and happiness to life.

As my 4-year-old grandson gazed with wonder at the huge sunflower in his front yard, he said, “That sunflower sure knows how to enjoy life.” They sure know how to show off, that’s for certain.

When my children were young, I called the sunflowers in our yard the boogeymen. Our garden was right below my bedroom window, so these shadowy, majestic wonders appeared to be tall, skinny men dancing in the night. I didn’t realize these creatures actually scared my kids.

It wasn’t until a few years ago, when I grew sunflowers outside my front windows, that I understood how real their fear was. It was a beautiful moonlit night when I wandered into the living room for something and just about died of fear when I saw the shadow of a tall, skinny man walk across my living room. Fortunately, before I succumbed to a heart attack, I realized it was a shadow from the sunflowers outside that was playing havoc with my emotional state.

Now I understand

Shadows from unknown sources can cause great fear!

We recently returned from spending time with my oldest son and his family. As I was tucking my grandkids into bed, I discovered that my two grandchildren had different night light preferences. My granddaughter wanted one on, but my grandson did not.

They used a battery-operated tea light, and my grandson insisted against it, as he didn’t like the shadows that the small, flickering flame produced. I could leave him in a blackened room where he couldn’t see his hand in front of him, but there is no way he wanted that “candle” in his room.

I didn’t blame him for being scared. The large shadows it cast against the wall were unnerving, to say the least. They reminded me of the boogeymen who used to frequent our garden and dance by the light of the moon. 

It’s easy to scare ourselves

It’s easy to make things out to be bigger than they really are. We convince ourselves that boogeymen are real. We let shadows play tricks on the walls of our minds and find ourselves concentrating on the darkness instead of the light.

When we switch the light on in a room filled with darkness, we find the truth: There is nothing to fear. When we remain in the dark, we continue to feed our fears. 

Having Parkinson’s disease, it’s easy to concentrate on shadows and stay in the dark, letting the boogeyman have his way with your mind. But being scared of this disease, afraid of what may never be, isn’t the life you were meant to live.

We were meant to live like the sunflower in my grandson’s front yard. We were meant to enjoy life.

When the sun is up in the sky, shining down on the earth below, sunflowers are a beautiful thing to behold. However, when the sun disappears, they can appear as something frightful. The difference is night and day — one we allow ourselves to enjoy, while the other we tend to fear. 

When we feel the darkness closing in on us and are afraid of what we can’t see, it’s time to turn on the light and allow it to chase the darkness and shadows away. It’s only in the light that we are able to see things as they truly are and “really enjoy life.”


Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.


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